Global Tech Advocates Summit: Technology and Innovation To Drive Global Growth
On October 15, 2019, the Coresight Research team was at the Global Tech Advocates Summit in Shanghai. Set to be an annual occurrence, the summit aims to promote and encourage collaboration in the tech industry.
The inaugural event focused on the proliferation of automation technologies, as well as the importance of innovation and collaboration:
- The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities are causing job losses as business activities are automated. However, panelists suggested that future workforces can adapt to this changing landscape through emerging opportunities in new roles with different skill requirements.
- Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are leveraging AI technology to transform traditional industries.
- Beijing supports technology development, particularly in certain industries, so there are opportunities for British and other foreign tech companies to penetrate the market. However, success hinges on understanding China’s culture and working with local partners.
- Technology and innovation have the potential to drive growth for companies globally, but collaboration will be key—even for large companies.
Organized by Tech London Advocates (TLA), the inaugural annual Global Tech Advocates Summit was held in Shanghai on October 15, 2019. TLA hopes that the event will foster collaboration among its “tech hubs”—TLA’s sibling organizations in 16 regions around the world.
In this report, we summarize some of the key insights from panel discussions.
Companies Should Trust AI and Machine Learning To Improve Performance
According to McKinsey & Company, about 50% of current work activities could be automated just by adapting existing technology—which means that AI could replace manual labor, causing job losses. However, Carola Wahl, Advisor at Innogy Innovation Hub, explained that while automation may eliminate many manual processes, the new era of AI will also create new job opportunities that require different skill sets.
She added that enterprises should trust in AI and machines to provide key operational benefits, such as speeding up processing time and improving business performance. For example, retailers can leverage AI algorithms to better meet consumer needs by launching automated and personalized conversions across online, texting and social media channels. At the same time, companies should encourage employees to adopt a “growth mindset” and help them to become more adaptable by providing training in new skills and encouraging innovative ideas. Governments should also provide support to help people learn new skills.
AI Will Play an Increasingly Important Role in B2B Business
Zhang Fan, cofounder of Chinese industrial tech media company Equal Ocean, used the term “industrial Internet” to describe the implementation of AI in traditional industries such as manufacturing. He offered the following examples of industrial Internet practices:
- Alibaba’s smart cities initiative aims to transform the impact of technology on society. The company’s AI-powered platform helps city transportation authorities gather data such as the number of vehicles on the road, and leverage data analytics to better manage traffic flow, for example.
- Tech giant Baidu has developed an AI-operated self-driving platform called Apollo. The company formed a partnership with car manufacturer Toyota to equip its cars with Apollo AI software. Baidu is also working with another automotive company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, on AI applications such as voice assist, augmented realty and motion detection.
- Tencent is promoting AI in healthcare through its Miying platform for hospitals, which uses AI-powered medical image-reading technology for health screening applications.
The China Opportunity
According to John Zai, Founder and CEO of CENTI Group, a key advantage for foreign tech companies operating in China is the strong national government support in certain industries, such as education, food and beverages. This support includes access to land and infrastructure as well as tax and fiscal incentives in certain zones. Regional governments have their own policies to benefit foreign companies in particular industries as well.
Scale-ups and Large Companies Need To Collaborate To Succeed
Cao Qing, Founding Partner of AceBridge Capital, emphasized that tech and innovation are driving global business growth. Typically, scale-ups have innovation power that large enterprises can leverage, and big companies offer expertise, network and business opportunities, creating a win-win situation. For example, Apple teamed up with chemistry and material manufacturer Shanghai Huayi Group to integrate the latter’s optical film into iPhone screens.
Wei Jianhua, Vice President of Shanghai Huayi Group, explained that the foundation of any collaboration is trust. He added that high demand in the materials industry could facilitate collaboration, for example, to develop new materials or expand the applications of existing fabrics.